Thursday, July 16, 2009

Farewell Italy

This is definitely my last post since tomorrow at noon I am leaving the site and boarding a train for Rome. I will stay in Rome overnight and then get on a plane for the States! I'm pretty excited to get home. Italy is great and I've had an amazing seven weeks, but it will be nice to be home.

This last week of the dig has been pretty good and REALLY hot. Its been so humid that we haven't even been able to see Vesuvius in the distance from out site, which is normally very visible. National Geographic has been on site the past four days and they have loved us so much rumor is they're coming back for more tomorrow. Although they have not yet discovered my full potential, I have been in several background shots so look for me a) sifting buckets of dirt in the background and b) washing buckets of pottery in the background while you're flipping through your channels sometime in the near future. The problem with the sifting shot is its a) of my backside mostly and b) involves me pushing a big wooden sifter back and forth very quickly so I am sure that my arm fat is jiggling quite nicely in the shot...just ignore that part and focus on the speed and agility with which I sift.

Otherwise, the hubub of the cameras also means that the Italian workmen are all over the place. They have shut off our normal access to our store room meaning we have to walk a really long way to get there, which also involves walking through crowds of tourists carrying shovels and pick axes and all kinds of other super safe equipment.

In my trench, we have also discovered "natural" again. This time at the bottom of a tank. This means we have hit the natural, lava stone, which we can no longer dig through because it is too hard.

Tonight we will be going for our (well, my) last pizza and nutella filled cornetti and possibly having a dance party to celebrate my departure. We'll see!

Monday, July 13, 2009

my big debut

I do not think I mentioned this before, but National Geographic is coming to film our dig this week!!!! We are going to be on TV!!!! Of course, I myself will probably not be on TV at all, but our project will be (sometime in the future, I will keep you posted on the details so you can all tune in) and our director will be for sure. They are interested in the work the project does and Pompeii itself. Today they were here scoping out the site and looking at all of our trenches to see whose was the most interesting, but I do not think they found our drain and tank especially exciting unfortunately. Oh well. 

They will be back on Wednesday and Thursday to film so we are all planning our wardrobes appropriately. In other news, I found a cool little vase today entirely intact. It is very small and cute. Its nothing especially exciting, but I liked finding it. I will try to take a picture tomorrow after I clean it.

Yesterday (Sunday) I went to Sorrento with some people. I had originally planned to also go to Capri, an island off the coast of Sorrento, but I kind of just felt like doing nothing all day after a week of digging. We walked around Sorrento, which is MUCH quieter and calmer than Pompeii and did a little shopping for souvenirs and stuff.  Sorrento brings me back to the subject of lemons, which brings me back to my original visit to Sorrento all the way at the beginning of my trip in May (man that seems like a long time ago). At that time, I had a contest and I would now like to announce the winner.

In case you are unfamiliar with the contest it was as follows:

What is the best thing to do with lemons?

And, after almost two months, the winner is: my cousin Jenn whose answer was--
"make lemonade---or martinis"

(This answer was very close to my brother's, but she added the additional clause giving her the extra push to the finish, sorry John).  For winning the contest she will receive lemon candies from Sorrento.

Before I end this post, I also want to mention that I am currently, as we speak, baking some cupcakes. Tomorrow is someone's birthday and one of the other girls and I decided to bake cupcakes. We forgot that there are no cup/spoon measures here and our recipe of course was not in metrics so we basically had to approximate the entire recipe, but I think they turned out pretty decent considering the circumstances. I will take some pictures and let you know the results!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Naples deja vu

Well, three weeks of digging down and one more to go. We have made lots of progress in our trench this week. First, we discovered a drain, which we have begun ripping out and will have the soil sampled for ecofacts and other cool stuff. We also found a tank and thirty coins, which is alot for one layer of soil!

I also ate pizza three times this week and it still has not gotten old.

Today, I went to Naples with a group of people despite the fact that I swore I would never return to that dirty dirty city. One of the girls on the project is from Naples so she took us to lots of good places including a bakery that sells ricotta filled pastries. They were delicious.Tomorrow I may head out to the island of Capri and the beaches of Sorrento. Stay tuned.

also, for all of you linguists out there (cough, cough, i know there are lots of you) I have been learning about the Neapolitan dialect. Apparently, its so different from Italian that you cannot even understand it often if you know standard Italian. Who know? Certainly not me. I have also been learning about Neapolitan hand gestures. Today, we had a contest to see who could spot the most hand gestures. I did not see any myself, but we are trying to learn. There are many, and many of them are not very nice...

Because I may not be posting much before my impending return to the States on Saturday I have decided to compile a list of what I am most looking forward to about being back in the US and what I will miss most about Italy. Here it goes.

What I am most looking forward to

diet coke


toilet seats

bathrooms with toilet paper, soap and paper towels

washing machines


new york times

clean clothes

What I will miss most

nutella filled cornetti

nutella filled cookies

nutella anything

tiny nuns everywhere

working in an ancient city everyday

the dogs all around the site

cheap gelato ((with whipped cream)

cheap and relatively efficient public transportation

the amazing outfits that italians wear....

the list could go on, but i will spare you all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

You may not recognize me when I return...

Well folks, I am still at it ( digging that is). Not much has changed since my last post in terms of archaeology. My trench found a subfloor and a drain (get excited!), but i will spare you photos because its not much to look although it is pretty cool when you find it yourself and clean it all. I have become quite adept at sweeping dirt and making it look presentable. In fact, someone walked by our trench today and said it was "sparkling clean."

Our Saturday night Fourth of July was very exciting, but firework free!!! We had delicious hot dogs and hamburgers and frozen french fries and for dessert we all had watermelon. Sunday several of us went to Paestum, a town about an hour away from Pompeii, which had three really well preserved Greek temples. It was a bit of an adventure because we took a wrong train and ended up in Salerno for a bit, but we took advantage of the opportunity and watched the Italian beach-goers (which is quite an experience) and ate some pizza. Paestum is great because the temples are amazing! Plus, we had time to stop by the beach there at the end of the day. Unfortunately, I did not bring a swimsuit from home so I popped into a shop called "Seduction" which is near our apartment and is notorious for selling cheap bathing suits. Well, they sold me a cheap bathing suit, but let me just say, its not much of a bathing suit. Its a good thing I dont know many people in Italy because I am afraid this garment (if you can call it that) may frighten young children it is so horrible. Italians bathing suit standards are clearly different...

Yesterday, my sunglasses broke just as I was walking into the site so today I had to go on a trek through modern Pompeii to find a new pair. I didnt think this would be hard, but it turns out that Italians are very serious about their sunglasses and the only ones I could find were designer and much more expensive than I would ever spend on...anything. Luckily, I found a pair at a store, but they are super Italy-chic and my friends agree that they probably will not be suitable for Charlottesville. We will see if Aaron recognizes me at the airport when I sport my cool new shades...

Lastly, I found a great bakery that sells GIANT croissants filled with nutell for 1 EURO EACH!!!! and, they are open late!!!! best and worst thing ever.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Italian Fourth of July

Today is the Fourth of July and some of the people here are planning a small gathering. We have purchased hot dogs (which are only sold in packs of three...), hamburgers, ketchup, watermelon, frozen french fries and other typically American food to eat. I do not know if I mentioned it before, but fireworks are a nightly occurence in Pompeii ( i am not joking, every night) so I am sure they will be going off somewhere, obviously not to celebrate the Fourth, but it will do. Apparently people shoot them off for all kinds of things and sometimes they are even going off in the middle of the day. These are not small bottle rockets or black cats either they are HUGE fireworks.
This morning I took a little trip to a nearby villa at Oplontis that is known for its paintings, that are really well preserved. I also stopped by Pompeii on my way out and looked at several houses that I am working on for my thesis. I have looked at them before, but a second look is always nice. The picture above is from one of the most well preserved rooms.

This week was long, hot and very tiring. I mentioned earlier that my trench was striking out with our digging and by Thursday it was clear that there was nothing in the huge hole we were working on since we hit natural soil (ie, the base soil). The picture above is our trench when we abandoned it.

So, we were relocated to another location that is very promising because it is a shopfront. On the first day we already found a threshold to a doorway so that means better things are to come I suppose. The picture above is our threshold, which contrary to my mother's belief, we did actually dig up. I know it does not look like much, but when you have been digging and digging and digging its like finding gold at the end of the rainbow.

I also wanted to mention a little bit about Pompeii the modern city, which is not quite as cool as the ancient city. Unlike living at the Academy in Rome, we have to make our own meals, but they provide us with a pretty hefty stipend a week (way more than necessary) and we generally make group meals or else go to the pizzeria down the street. There is also a Chinese restaurant, but we went there the other night and let me just say that I am going to have to be really sick of pizza before I go there again ( although their featured dessert is fried nutella..). It is kind of nice because the people in the town know the Americans who work on the project so they recognize us when we walk through every morning and evening on our long trek and they greet us and give us deals at some places. The big downfall, however, is the lack of laundry facilities. Each apartment was given a bucket. Let me just say, a bucket is not sufficient when you have been sweating and working in dirt for nine hours a day. Its pretty gross, actually. I realized that most people just rewear their clothes because they get so dirty anyway its not really worth washing them, but i have not yet been able to bring myself to do that. I have been "washing" them in the bucket, but it really does not help too much and I am not quite used to the feel of crunchy socks and underwear against my skin. I guess I have another two weeks to adjust. I have a whole stack of dig clothes that I will be leaving in Pompeii because they will just not be salvageable.